RUSIZI - President Paul Kagame, yesterday, called upon Rwandans to be compliant and pay taxes on time. Officiating at the 9th National Taxpayers’ Day celebrations in Rusizi Dstrict, the President told thousands of residents who had gathered, that marking the taxpayers’ day is very important because it is a way of recognising taxpayers and the relationship between taxes and development.
Kagame, who is on a three-day visit to the Western Province, told residents that the annual celebration is not only a time for Rwandans to reflect on the country’s economy, but also to assess what has been achieved in the past and exchange ideas on what should be done next.
In reference to the Day’s theme - “Choose Development, be Compliant” - the President said that compliance is very important because it makes it easier for the taxpayer to go about his daily business without any hindrances, while at the same time it making it possible for the government to provide facilities, such as infrastructure, that are needed to ease doing business.
Kagame who had earlier commissioned a Rwf949m MAGERWA bonded warehouse at the Rwanda-DRC border, told the massive crowd that when people are compliant in paying taxes, it becomes easy for the government to extend roads, electricity and facilities such as the warehouse, to facilitate trade.
He noted that when the number of taxpayers goes up like it has been in the past few years, it is a sign that the number of people engaged in profitable development activities is going up, adding that revenues collected by the tax body have grown five-fold over the past three years.
He once again noted that increased revenue collections is a positive sign which shows that Rwandans can seek solutions to their problems among themselves, without depending on donors and well-wishers.
Using the analogy of a child, who after growing up is weaned from breast milk, the President said that, Rwanda, after relying on donor support for many years, has reached a level where it can fend for itself, therefore, cutting down the level of dependency.
Kagame thanked the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) for its role, springing over 10 years, in building the capacity of Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA). The Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF), the Rwanda National Police (RNP), the Southern Province and Radio 10 were also recognised for their role in promoting compliance.
The President warned the residents of Rusizi against smuggling, saying that not only does it deny the government a considerable amount of revenue, but it also undermines government’s efforts and programmes, such as the 24-hour border operations that facilitate doing business.
Finance Minister, John Rwangombwa, noted that increased revenue collections have been vital in helping the country to cut down external budget funding. He said that by the financial year 2013/14, external funding is projected to reduce by 12 per cent.
Rwangombwa noted that the government is doing everything to streamline the tax payment process, making it easy for tax payers to remit their taxes, while at the same time creating an enabling climate that will draw many investors into the country, who in turn will bring in revenues in form of taxes.
According to the Governor of Western Province, Celestin Kabahizi, as a result of stability, trade between Rwanda and DRC has increased by 17 % from 2008, making the region one of the leading contributors of revenue to national coffers.
The Commissioner General of RRA, Mary Baine, announced the best taxpayers of 2009, with Bank of Kigali (BK) emerging the overall best taxpayer, while BRALIRWA S.A, SORAS S.A, CAMERWA, SAMEER HUSSEIN DAMJI, AMEKI COLOR (RUSIRARI Jacques), COSERGI(Cooperative de service de Gisenyi), La BRISE MOTEL, AVEGA AGAHOZO-Centre d’Accueil and John Hakizimana emerged the most compliant tax payers.
Theobald Bavugamenshi, who owns coffee washing stations in Ngororero District, emerged the most innovative and tax compliant Small and Medium Enterprise owner, while Cooperative KIAKA, UCORIBU (Union des Coopérative Rizicole de Butare) and International Marble were the most innovative tax payers.
The hosts Rusizi District were awarded among the “most compliant Provincial taxpayers” (Western) and for the invaluable contribution to National Development by paying taxes in 2009, alongside Home Saint Francois, COOPTHE Gisakura and Safari Thadee.
Baine noted that in 2009, RRA collected Rwf379bn in revenues exceeding its target of Rwf351bn. She added that in the first 4 months of 2010, RRA collected Rwf139.3bn, 4.3bn beyond its target of Rwf135bn. The tax body is targeting Rwf458bn in the 2010/11financial year.
She noted that the tax body has put in place initiatives to ease the process of paying taxes, including providing declaration forms online, a tax calculator as well as tax payment points around the country as well as tax advisors.
The President continues with the tour of the Province in Bugarama where he will meet residents and later proceed to officially open Nyungwe Forest Lodge, a 5 star hotel located in the Gisakura-Nyungwe area.